By Stu Mayhew
Saturday saw the last day of this years Greenwich and Docklands Festival, ending at two great locations. First up was Dancing City GDIF’s annual outdoor dance extravaganza! It gives you a chance to sample lots of different alfresco dance performances against the backdrop of the imposing sky scraper of Canary Wharf. This event always seemed to be blessed with good weather and this year was no different , a beautiful summers day in which to enjoy a host of performances. I met the GDIF volunteers getting ready to inform the public where to go and what to see and took a quick snap to get me started!
I had planned to follow one of the well devised ‘Journeys’ that are mapped out in the GDIF timetable but you always seem to stumble across something unexpected so that plan failed after about 10 minutes! I came across the genuinely amazing Ziya Azazi performing his ‘Dervish in Progress’ in Westferry Circus. This performance wasn’t on the timetable , at this time anyway, so there was hardly anyone around to witness this uniquely dizzying performance of Sufi whirling dervish dancing. This ancient dance set under the shadow of Canary Wharf Tower was mesmerising and without any crowds I was able to try lots of different angles with my camera.
Next up was ‘Layers’ down by the Riverside , a big crowd had gathered on the steps and the trio of performers incorporated song as well as modern dance with the thames as their backdrop. I chatted to some other photographers who had travelled down from Hertfordshire as part of a camera club outing. Its always nice to meet other enthusiasts and it was decided unanimously thats Dancing City ticks all the boxes for photographers of all levels.
A short walk to Wren Landing for my next photo op and a rare outdoor appearance from English National Ballet. They performed beautifully under the dappled light of the trees that surrounded their small stage. To be so close up to ballet dancers really gives you an insight into what their bodies must go through. It was a really lovely performance and enthusiastically received by the crowd.
On my way to Cubitt Steps to see the intriguing ‘Two Sink , Three Float’ I watched a couple of performances in Cabot Square. I don’t always get modern dance but I am never left in doubt how fit and committed the performers are, you can’t help but admire. I watched a few different performances and then move on to I wasn’t quite sure what!
‘Two Sink Three Float’ took place actually in the dock , as IN the water! It was an unusual setting indeed and the performers were in and out of the water onto a small pontoon. The tow female performers had long hair so there were some great shots to be had of them flicking there heads back sending up a great arc of water droplets, very dramatic and I certainly haven’t seen anything similar, ever!
Last stop of the afternoon and Jubilee Plaza , which is the main area outside Canary Wharf tube station. This area hosted a variety of performers taking part in ‘Big Dance’s Youth Dance Day’ – a quick rotation of lots of acts performing a non stop dance marathon , from breakdance and ballet and all styles in between. I saw a bit of crowd participation choreography where all ages quickly mastered a routine and performed it to the large gathered crowd.
It was a glorious afternoon but I need to head home to recharge my batteries , both my own and my camera’s and make ready for the Festival Finale of One Million in Woolwich.